© Submitted photo
Joan Cranston stands outside the Julia Ann Walsh Heritage Center (formerly the Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital) in Norris Point.
CORNER BROOK — Joan Cranston hopes a survey currently being conducted in western Newfoundland will help improve the delivery of health-care services to the region.
Cranston, a physiotherapist in Norris Point, is a member of the Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour regional council of the Rural Secretariat, a government-appointed entity that strives to advance the sustainability of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
The council has combined with the Stephenville-Port aux Basques regional council to conduct a survey that focuses on access to health-care service. Similar to previous surveys it has done on transportation and education, the Rural Secretariat is now engaging the public with the goal of passing on people’s concerns about the health-care system to the policy and decision makers in government.
The surveys are available online and paper copies can also be picked up at some health clinics throughout the region. Some town halls and community service groups also have copies for those who may not have easy access to the online version.
Western Health recently conducted a community needs assessment, but Cranston said steps have been taken to ensure the survey does not duplicate what that needs assessment set out to accomplish.
“We have heard about the stories and the troubles people have accessing services,” said Cranston. “We wanted to see if we could capture that information in a more concrete way.”
The survey includes space where participants can add their own comments about both the good and the bad experiences they may have had while seeking health care. The information will be compiled in a way that will allow it to be broken down by community.
“We are probably going to see pockets where this community has pretty good access to this service and not so good service to that service, while this community has no access at all,” said Cranston.
It’s not just the two regional councils working together on the project. The councils are also collaborating with the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research in St. John’s, which will compile and analyze the data.
The surveys were launched shortly before Christmas and the Rural Secretariat hopes to have them returned by the end of January.
Engaging the public may not end with the anonymous surveys being submitted. Cranston is hoping that some of the participants will agree to participate in more detailed “kitchen table discussions” about their experiences later on.
“These sort of focus groups would be more intimate and informal and, hopefully, people will be more comfortable in sharing their stories in that kind of forum,” said Cranston. “This will give us some more rich information and it is sometimes people’s stories, and not cold statistics, that spark action.”
Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour
The Rural Secretariat Council for the Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour extends from Corner Brook, including the Bay of Islands, to Bonne Bay and White Bay, including the Humber Valley and Deer Lake.
Survey link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/healthservices_cbrh
Stephenville-Port aux Basques
The Rural Secretariat Council for the Stephenville-Port aux Basques Region extends from Stephenville, including the Port au Port Peninsula, south to Rose Blanche and along the southwest coast to Francois.
Survey link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/healthservices_stpb
Source: Rural Secretariat